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CrossFit Journal

Crossfit Works, Inc., Fitness Centers,
Tucson, AZ

Schedule for Regionals Wed May 28 – Monday June 2

As most of you are aware, we are preparing to depart for the 2014 CrossFit Regionals, Southwest Regional in Salt Lake City.  This means that your coaching staff is headed north.  We have arranged to keep the gym open for as much as we can while we are all away representing your gym!!  Please note that the gym is highly unlikely to be open outside of the very official class hours until the evening of Monday June 2nd.  Here is the schedule:

Wednesday May 28th-all normal classes

Thursday May 29th-Open Gym from 10:30-1:00pm, All classes after that cancelled, incl the 4pm Ladies Only, the 5pm, the 5:30pm and the 6:15pm.  There will be one class held at 6:30pm on Thursday night!!

Friday May 30th-NO 5:30am class, but there will be a 7am class and a 9am class.  No midday Open Gym, but there will be evening Open Gym from 4pm-6pm.

Saturday May 31st-Normal CrossFit Football and Open Gym until 12:30pm.

Sunday-Closed as always

Monday June 2nd – NO MORNING CLASSES and NO MIDDAY OPEN GYM.  Normal schedule resumes at 4pm with the Ladies Only

Don’t forget to follow the progress of your team, and your individual athletes at the website for the CrossFit Games, SouthWest Region Leaderboard and Live Stream!!

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Regional Preparation

Our Performace Team spent the last few days doing a mock Regional Competition.  They went through the workouts almost exactly as they will when we are in Salt Lake City in a couple more weeks.  In some ways the Team workouts are fairly easy on our athletes because the amount of work in a Team workout is often less than the amount of work they would do in a typical training day.  The difference is in the intensity and the group dynamic.  In just a few short weeks these athletes transition from working to best each other every day, to joining forces to beat some other team.  CrossFit is, almost all the time, an individual sport/program-right up until you qualify a team for Regionals.  Then you instantly become a team.  This is not always an easy transition.  Andrew Lemos, one of our Performance Team members, a coach of the 5:30am class and a firefighter helped out the team this weekend by creating some group warmups.  It was useful…and funny.  The athletes also handed in sleep and food logs for the weekend.

For the next couple weeks you will see them continue to practise the Regional workouts, to hone transitions and to look for opportunities to shave out seconds.  Our Regional is the final weekend, May 30, 31 and June 1st.  By then we will have seen all the best performances handed in around the world.  Keep an eye on the CrossFit Games site to follow the development of the Games qualifiers.  And keep an eye on your Team as they prepare to go and represent you all in Salt Lake City!!!!!

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Wins at the Police and Fire Games!!!

Kim Olech: First Place!!, Lucy Slate: 4th overall, Tim Slate 1st in Age and 11th overall

Congratulations to three members of the CrossFit Works Performance Team who competed in the CrossFit Division of the Arizona Police and Fire Games this past weekend.  Tucson Police Department member Kim Olech took FIRST OVERALL!!  Our most spectacular fire fighting/CrossFitting couple-Tim and Lucy Slate also took some  prizes.  Tim took first in his age group and 11th overall and Lucy took 4th overall.  You are our heroes every day!

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Boston Marathon

Congratulations to Fran, my personal training client, who just finished the Boston Marathon.  Running the Boston Marathon is always a big deal, but today’s was especially meaningful.  Last year, the Boston Marathon was the location of a violent attack which killed three spectators.  Today’s race was 9,000 runners over its usual enormous entry.  In honor of all the runners and spectators who were at the Boston Marathon today I decided to run a 5k. Yes, I realize that is not a marathon.  Its what I had on offer today.  My first mile I tried to run at Fran’s marathon pace.  So, my best mile is about Fran’s marathon pace.  I ran the rest of the 5k at what I imagined would be my marathon pace, if there is such a thing.  It looks like those 80 yr olds who still run every day, but hardly lift their feet off the ground.  The geriatric shuffle. I imagined doing my shuffle through downtown Boston and what the feeling must be today and what the memorials to those killed and injured at last year’s race look like around the city.  It was pretty incredible imagining running in Boston today and I can only imagine what it must have felt like to actually be there.  Congratulations to the City of Boston for putting on a great event today and to our own Fran, for her finish, in the top 15% of her division (if I am reading the leaderboard correctly!).

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2014 Reebok CrossFit Open is finished…sort of!!

A huge congratulations to all of you who completed this year’s CrossFit Open.  For many of you it was a chance to appreciate how far you have come, for some an opportunity to see what you want in your future.  In any case, it is a long committment and plenty of work.  At this moment the CrossFit Games Leaderboard is oddly meaningless, both for individuals and for teams.  We still have to go through the process of the individuals submitting their required videos for approval and for recalculation of the team standings once the individuals accept their invitations.   Stay tuned for the final results!!

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14.4 Highlights

I have watched A LOT of CrossFit in the last six years.  Thousands of workouts.  Hundreds and hundreds of crossfitters.  Still, with this fourth 2014 Reebok CrossFit Games Open WOD there were several surprising and emotional moments that I will remember as some of the best CrossFit moments I have seen.  These are my (Jen’s) personal moments of this workout, but probably Chris and Sam and Leslie and our other staff have some moments too.  I know I probably missed some other excellent achievements since I was judging some.  I’ll start my highlight reel with the Performance Team and I will end it with perhaps the most awesome and inspiring moments from our first and second time Open participants.

-I’ve watched Chris Gartrell do about a zillion workouts, and I’ve seen him compete a bunch too.  Friday night he turned in one of the best workouts I have ever seen him do.  True to his personal style, it was a well thought out, disciplined performance, each movement was precise and efficient.  On top of that he simply dug deep and did more than he might normally have done.  At muscle up #11 I realized that he was going to make it through all 20 in time and it was actually hard to keep counting because I was a little emotional!!

-Andrew Lemos has been turning in consistent fabulous CrossFit performances for years.  I watched a really perfect coaching moment between Chris and Andrew during 14.4.  It was easy to see by the look on Andrew’s face that he had reached that moment of wanting to slow down and let the suffering win.  Chris began to talk to him and tell him how to keep going, and I could see Andrew let go of the suffering feeling and put his trust in Chris.  He did exactly what Chris said and had one of the best workouts I’ve seen him have in ages.  Suggestion to all of you…try really trusting and listening to your coach.  It works.

-Mark L. had one of his best personal workouts in my opinion.  Mark has been consistent and disciplined with the Performance programming this year and he is having a fantastic Open.

-Reed Castle traveled far outside his comfort zone on the power cleans.  He listened and he did.  He made it to the rings too!

-Christina Willits got her first competition-legit toes-to-bar.  I offered her the chance, after several missed attempts, to scale the workout to partial range of motion, take a 60 for her score and keep going.  She said she would rather keep trying…and she got one!

-Nicole V. and Danny O’H also got their first competition-legit toes-to-bar.

-Evan D. simply threw down a workout that has taken him three years to achieve.  The amount of work he did, the technique and efficiency he demonstrated on the rower and with the toes-to-bar was awesome.  Congrats Evan!

-Jess Freeh had decided to let the toes-to-bar drag her down a little and was on pace to not quite make it to the power cleans.  She opened up to some coaching and timed resting and ended up getting deep into the power clean set.  A little glimpse of many great things to come.

-Best of all, for me was Ali, pictured above.  Ali is a pretty new CrossFitter, but she has put in work.  I have images of Ali late on Wed evenings in the weeks leading up to The Open, while the gym is being cleaned, working on her double unders around the vaccuum cleaner.  Ali was so incredibly disciplined and willing to push hard enough, that despite doing her toes-to-bar as singles, she got to the rings with 30 seconds to spare.  This is a performance on par with, and better than some very accomplished female CrossFitters.  If Ali had been doing CrossFit long enough to have learned a muscle up, she would have earned a top female score.  It was amazing.

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Lifting Event on April 5th and New Raw Strength Open!!

Let’s be clear: powerlifting is always fun, but it is more fun in a crowd.  The energy is high, the spotting is good and the inspiration is often plentiful.  So, on April 5th right here at home Barebones Barbell Club will have a Squat and Deadlift test day.  In our Barbell Club, I think it is generally agreed that squatting and deadlifting is more fulfilling than benching.  With the possible exception of Jen B. who is a bench pressing queen, most of us around here bench because we kind of have to.  When you compete in powerlifting you have a choice of the full meet, single deadlift, single bench or a bench/deadlift combo.  This is confusing to many of us because the Squat is Emperor of the Universe when it comes to strength and it is soooo left out in competition unless you go full meet.  This motivated us to have a little fun throwdown where everyone can squat and deadlift only!!

APRIL 5th beginning at 12 noon, going until about 5pm – SQUAT and DEADLIFT EVENT

-This is an unsanctioned event, but in general we will follow standard powerlifting rules.  Squat below parallel, wait for commands, and don’t do anything funny before you re-rack the barbell.  Deadlift will be pulled in one motion, no hitching or ramping, and controlled back down to the ground.

-Each athlete will have 3 chances, following standard rules of not being allowed to drop down in weight after a failed lift.

-We will lift in pounds, not kilos.

-Weigh in and warm up will begin at noon.  First lifter at 1pm.

-Winner will be calculated using the Wilkes formula.

This is a great chance for all of you here in town to test your squat and deadlift prior to upcoming meets including the April 26th USPA meet in Phoenix and the 100% Raw Powerlifting American Challenge right here in Tucson.  This is also a great chance for you CrossFitters to celebrate the end of the CrossFit Open by lifting something really heavy so that you can have a starting place for your summer strength work!!!

The cost to participate is $10.  We are using the funds to purchase a new safety squat bar (which has great application for those of you with shoulder/wrist/elbow issues).  You can register here:  Squat-Deadlift Event

Finally, our next Raw Strength Series will begin on April 7th.  As always it will be six weeks long, meet on Monday and Wednesday evenings with additional, optional sessions on Saturday mornings.  I (Jennifer Higgins) will coach this series.  My priorities when I coach Raw Strength are to have the athletes understand the mechanics of the movements, to learn safety and lifting protocols, to perfect technique and to get much stronger than they believed possible.  I like to have a crew of novice lifters who are ready to learn as well as CrossFitters who really need to get stronger!!  Space is limited.

Here is the link to register: Raw Strength Registration.  If you would prefer to pay cash, please send me an email ( so that I save you a place.

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Don’t Put The Paleo Cart Before the Paleo Horse

Today’s Paleo post is not about actual food or recipes, but about an aspect of eating Paleo that can easily be overlooked.  While you are choosing foods that are nourishing, complete and sustaining, give some thought to choosing food tools that are also sustainable and substantive.  Build your evolutionary nutrition kitchen from the ground up.  Put the horse in front of the cart.  Don’t try to close the barn door after the horse is out.  OK-no more horse cliches.  It is important to remember that at the heart of the motivation for most of us to follow a specific approach to eating is health and longevity.  Sure, there are the short-term goals of leaner body compositions or performance in a sport, but somewhere, in with all those flash-in-the-pan goals is a desire to be as well in body and mind as possible.  In particular, if you choose to follow an evolutionary diet template, like Paleo or a Weston A. Price template, you must care about more than just how you look in a sports bra.  As you sort out your kitchen cupboards and refrigerator to reflect your wise and healthy eating habits, take a look at what you cook in, cook with and what containers you use to store or transport your food.

Your kitchen tools and food containers are not just for looks.  They are some of the most basic of human tools, the earliest of technologies. Bows and arrows were not the first technology.  Containers and digging sticks were earlier.  The gatherer came first, not the hunter.  When we talk about getting our grass-fed bison, wild-caught salmon and locally-raised chickens we should first talk about what we cook our vegetables in, what we store our root vegetables in and what we use to transfer the food from bowl to mouth.  Our kitchen tools and food containers have become a pawn in the hands of food marketers, interior decorators – a piece of the constant consumerist crap.   This is incredibly unfortunate because the truth is that the most sustainable, healthy, environmentally-green, Paleo-esque kitchen ware is the cheapest, most sustainable, most Dumpster-Diver friendly swag out there.   So, let’s break this down a little to get back to reality, as my favorite rapper says.

The pots and pans that possess your food are the foundation of your diet.  The longer you remain a part of the Paleo-eating world, the more you will likely become interested in the big issues surrounding our food supply such as access to local foods and chemical-free food, or perhaps you were interested in those issues first and they led you to explore an evolutionary-style diet.   Either way, the containers that you place your food in are a part of the process.   You don’t need to purchase expensive designer containers from high end kitchen stores.  Wood, metal, fabric and glass are all around you.  They are cheap, clean, reusable and do not leach chemicals into your hard-earned, lovingly prepared food.  Let’s work through some of the concerns about ditching the plastic containers, the plastic spoons and the paper towels.

Glass is breakable.  Yes, glass containers are breakable.  All good things in life deserve some care.  Unbreakable things encourage us to be careless.  Carelessness is not a quality to cultivate whether in relationships or food choices.  My children and I have been putting our food in glass containers since they were toddlers.  We have always lived in homes with ceramic tile or concrete floors, so breakage is an issue.  We also spent years of our lives out in the woods, at parks, and at friends’ homes while we homeschooled and we packed A LOT of travel foods in glass.  I have learned some unpleasant lessons, so here are my tips:

  • Use Ball or Mason Canning Jars.  These are incredibly sturdy glass jars that withstand boiling liquids (unless they are cracked).  When they do break, they do not shatter into tiny splinters like lower quality glass.  They break into chunks, with sharp edges for sure, but clean up is pretty easy.  These jars are easily found by the case at most department and hardware stores in several sizes and for cheap.  The tiny ones are indispensable for kids, as are the quart wide mouths and the half gallon wide mouths.  The pint-sizes are perfect drinking glasses.  They come with the two-piece metal lids, but search around for the screw-on plastic lids.  These don’t rust or bend, they are more leak proof, and they are easier for kids to get on and off.  Every leftover in my house goes in these jars.  They go to school in lunch boxes too.  I break these things all the time because I set them on the pilot light of my gas stove and forget them.  When I remember that multi-tasking is not Zen, it is when I hear a loud crack.  All that happens is the jar has split in two or three pieces and I have a mess on my stove top.  Contrast this to when I once dropped a cheap glass bottle of olive oil on my tile floor.  My toddlers and I spent the rest of the day outside waiting for Daddy to come home from work so I could clean up the life threatening mess!!
  • Visit your local thrift store.  Every thrift store has heavy, 1950s diner-quality mugs, bowls and plates for about .25 cents a piece.  Do not take your favorite matching dish sets on outings.  Don’t let your kids or your careless relatives use them in your tiled dining room either.  I have a shelf outside in my back yard with a stack of thrift store plates and bowls.  When we break one, we go out back and get another one.  I keep a couple in the trunk of my car too for impromptu picnics.  Again, when these heavy ceramics break, there is very little danger of glass splinters.  When you have babies and toddlers these are great ways for them to learn to be careful without any Mama Trauma (again my favorite rapper) regarding broken dishes.
  • Cooking in glass can be great.  Pyrex is the best invention ever.  Glass baking dishes and casserole dishes are totally inert.  You can put acidic foods like tomatoes or lemon in them.  You can burn on any number of chicken wings, and with an overnight soak it all scrubs off with no damage to the pot or pan.  Pyrex is a little pricey at department stores, but thrift stores are an endless supply and a nice soak in boiling water is all that has to happen for a fresh start.

Metal containers and pots and pans require a bit of caution.  Non-stick surfaces have no place in the Evolutionary Kitchen.  First of all, if you cooked in the appropriate amount of butter, lard or coconut oil you wouldn’t need a non-stick pan.  Second of all, those surfaces are a dynamite stick of chemicals.  Why shell out for organic foods and then cook them in a stew of off-gassed chemicals?  Cheap metal pans can also be a source of health-hazardous metals like copper and aluminum which typically are already built up to unhealthy concentrations in our bodies.  There will be moments in your life when you can afford, or ask for as gifts, long-lasting, high quality metal cook ware.  My favorites are:

  • Cast iron.  Obviously.  I would live in a cabin on a mountain top in West Virginia if I could, so cast iron cookware is part and parcel of my life.  There are a few considerations with using this old school cookware that apply mostly to those of you with germ phobia and fat phobia.  Cast iron is meant to be “seasoned” which means creating an impervious layer of fat on the pan.  Think of your favorite mountain man cooking his drop biscuits in bacon drippings on cast iron.  The fat creates a barrier between the food and the pan.  Don’t over scrape them and don’t use soap.  Keep the heat low and even.  No acids like tomato.  The big kettles are good for non-acidic soups only.  Strangely, there is a group of folks who should not cook in cast iron-men with high blood iron levels.  Because men do not menstruate, their blood is with them for long periods of time.  If they build up high iron levels it can damage the blood vessels.  You might be surprised to know this, but in our world it is actually kind of easy for men to have iron levels that are too high.  Most commercial breakfast cereals, multi-vitamins and other “fortified” foods like bread have iron added.  If you are a man, you might consider asking your health care provider to check your iron status next time you have blood work performed.
  • Ceramic-coated cast iron.  I have two pots of ceramic-coated cast iron.  They are expensive.  I have had them both for decades.  You will feel like Julia Childs when you cook in them if that helps.  These are the best of every world.  They are heavy and thick, so they heat evenly and do not burn your food.  They are inert, so that you can cook acidic foods like tomato soup.  You do need to be a bit careful scraping them with metal utensils or cleaning with an abrasive scrubber because once the ceramic is scratched it is not as good.  If you are the type of person to register for gifts when you get married, I suggest your entire gift registry be composed of Lodge Cast Iron (making American heirloom cast iron cookware since 1896) and Calphalon Enamel-Coated Cookware. If you waste your wedding gifts on anything else you deserve to serve a dozen inedible Thanksgiving dinners to your friends and relatives.

In general, other metal cooking utensils and cook ware can be limited.  I have a good metal spatula, mostly to use on the grill.  A couple of heavy metal cookie sheets are nice, and I usually cover them with parchment paper to avoid scraping up any metal onto my food.  Stainless steel strainers and sieves are handy.  Get yourself an enameled colander though, instead of a plain metal one because many fruits and vegetables are acidic and will leach metals from an unprotected metal surface.

There is a little cult-popularity right now in Japanese-style metal food containers.  These are expensive and, in our experience, the lids don’t stay on all that well.  We also live in Arizona so ice packs are a vital part of transporting food and these metal containers do not have ice-pack capability.  We have a couple of pieces of metal containers that we use for dry snacks, but mostly I think these are a waste of money.

Wood is beautiful.  Call me foo-foo if you must, but wooden bowls and spoons are spiritually superior, and that results in superior food and eating.  A wooden salad bowl and some wooden spoons, as well as wooden cutting boards, are the pinnacle of magnificent kitchen works.  These don’t need to be washed (unless you let your fruit go bad and get infested by fruit flies…so, I’ve heard).  You simply wipe them down.  Here in Tucson, Arizona we have a local craftsman who makes small wooden spoons for eating and sells them at the Farmer’s Markets.  You know that a real person created your implements.  This is akin to the difference between a fast food burger made by a skanky teenage metal head who hates the world, and one made from grass-fed beef raised a few miles away and ground fresh in your kitchen.  Personally, I have never been able to afford the gorgeous wooden kitchen implements seen in most kitchen stores.  I have mine because I go to local craft fairs and I ask if they have seconds, or bowls or spoons that don’t look pretty.  My sister gave me my wooden salad servers as a gift one year. I treasure them.  Wood needs to be cared for if you live in a dry environment.  Oil it regularly with a beeswax-based mix, or an oil made for wooden kids’ toys like Three BEEautiful Bees.

Pottery is a must.  Be careful purchasing thrift store pottery because sometimes, items from other countries do not have food-safe glazes.  Pottery glazes can be incredibly toxic.  However, most local art stores, galleries, craft shows and art schools have sales on a regular basis where you can purchase handmade, food-safe items for cheap!!  If you aren’t sure if a pottery piece is safe for regular usage, find a local ceramic artist and ask them.  Handmade, local pottery frequently comes in small unusual sizes that are very kid-friendly.  The down-side of handmade stuff is that when it breaks, you feel badly.  Luckily, creation is continual.  Artists are everywhere among us.  Support them.  It doesn’t have to be expensive.

Finally, linen or cotton napkins are useful.  We keep a big pile of them, all found at thrift stores for .50 cents each right near the table.  The kids get one in their lunch box, we use them for everything.  No paper towels or napkins ever need to enter the front door.  Again, I think that a reusable, real item encourages kids to notice what they are doing.  We aren’t super germ-phobic here, so we reuse the cloth stuff until it is actually dirty (our washer pours the water onto the trees in the back yard, and clean wet laundry gets hung on the line to air dry).

Choosing your cooking tools, your serving ware, your eating utensils, and everything associated with your food storage, preparation, serving and eating is as much a part of your committment to good health and wellness as the food itself.  Perhaps more importantly, the pots, pans and dishes are a part of the feeling, the experience, and the memory of eating.  We all know that food is love.  Food is joy.  Food is care.  Food is life.  Serving food to others and serving food to yourself is one of the highest expression of love and care we humans have  in our power.  Show care in every aspect.

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Spectator & Competitor Etiquette for CrossFit

We are into Week 2 of the 2014 Reebok CrossFit Games Open.  You all did a great job Friday night.  By tonight you will see all our scores validated on the CrossFit Games Leaderboard.

Since many of you are new to CrossFit, some of you are new to CrossFit Works, and most of you are new to competing or supporting an athlete in a CrossFit competition, I want to let you in on a few etiquette issues.  Of course, each individual athlete has particular likes and dislikes, so this is a sort of generalization, but it might be useful to you.

Lucas Parker is one of my favortite CrossFitters, but this picture does seem to invite discussion about judging and competing!!

For you Spectators (this goes for you competitors when it is your turn to watch):

  • Personal space can be an issue for some people.  While there are athletes who like the “in your face” style of cheering, most of the people that I know don’t enjoy that too much.  In particular, if there is weight lifting of any sort involved, the athlete feels subconsciously better if there is no one in danger of being hit with a barbell if the lift goes awry at any moment.  For some athletes, having a spectator, no matter how loved, too close inspires a “I’d like to slap you” effect rather than a “this is helping” effect.  If you really want to support an athlete, check with them ahead of time about what they like best from their cheering squad.
  • Without a doubt, too much intense cheering in the first two minutes of a ten or fifteen minute workout is a heart breaker.  Most competitive CrossFitters know they have to settle in for the long haul, and they usually (or should) have a game plan.  If you are yelling at them to “pick up the bar” at 45 seconds into a ten minute workout, you may be telling them the exact wrong thing!!
  • For sure, in those last couple minutes of a workout, when the only thing left to do is suffer and get every last possible rep, then you can be as rowdy and loud and excited as you can possibly be.  There is nothing better than a great crowd during the last minute or two of a CrossFit competition workout.
  • Finally, post workout support is highly individual.  Usually, it is pretty obvious if an athlete wants to be left alone.  If they seem mad or upset or disappointed…give them some space.  Don’t tell them “good job” if it clearly wasn’t a good job for them.  You might ask them an open question like, “is that what you were hoping for?”  By asking that, you know if they are happy or disappointed and you can respond with a nice matching answer.

For You Competitors:

  • Take the time to watch the demonstration videos at The CrossFit Games website prior to coming in on Friday night to do the workouts.
  • Keep your equipment in your own personal work space.  Unless you know you are in line for some of Reebok’s prize money in July, there is NEVER an excuse to get careless with your equipment in a way that could injure a nearby competitor.
  • Stay in control of yourself and your stuff.
  • Be clear with your judges about what would be helpful for you, however, be aware that their job is to judge your reps and record your score, not support you or do things according to your own personal peccadilloes.  You can ask them to count your double unders in a particular manner, and they might, but they don’t have to.
  • For the millionth time, DO NOT SIGN YOUR NAME to your score sheet after the workout if you have any doubts or issues about the judging.  Take a few minutes after the workout if you want before you sign it.  Signing your name means this: “I am totally happy and content with the score that is written down on this sheet, I do not have any problems with my judge,  I will not contemplate this later and wonder if it is correct, and I am grateful that someone would volunteer their time to watch me do double unders for ten minutes.”
  • As I have written about before, in my role at the gym, I often am privileged to hear things that hurt peeople’s feelings or really bother them that sometimes it is difficult to say to the other parties involved.  One thing that comes up repeatedly in a gym full of great athletes, is how sh***y it is when someone mentions that they are excited to have beaten someone else.  As in, “Wow!!  I did better than you?!  I never thought that would happen.”  That is just lame.  Don’t do it.
  • Another thing that really aggravates your fellow CrossFitters is when you give explanations, excuses or “reasons” why you didn’t perform the way you had planned.  If you are listing your lack of sleep, lack of food, lack of your favorite barbell or favorite song as the reason you didn’t beat Rich Froning, it just sounds like what it is: excuses.  It is one thing to be objective and thoughtful about what you can change next time to improve your performance, but sometimes your score just actually is exactly what you should get as a score.  For example, if I say “I’m pretty sure Leslie beat me in 14.1 because she has a special jump rope made just for her, and I used one out of the tangle on the wall”, I hope you all would call me out on the fact that Leslie has trained her ass off all year, and I have sat around lifting weights a couple times a week.  No amount of special jump ropes would have helped me on 14.1.  It might suck, but there it is.  Train harder next time.
  • Help clean up the mess.  Obviously, put away your equipment, but water bottles, sweaty spots, chalk mess, bits of tape lying around…all this is the aftermath of a great competition night, but how about giving a hand to clean it up?


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Tonight’s the Night

Mark L. helps a few of you prepare for The Open.  Mark has been coaching CrossFit longer than most CrossFit gyms have been around!  He is one of Tucson’s most experienced CrossFit coaches.  He is also a USA Weightlifting Coach!  Thanks Mark.

4pm Arizona time (5pm Pacific time) CrossFit HQ will announce the first of our five 2014 Reebok CrossFit Open workouts.  If you have registered to compete, we will be conducting the workout at 5pm Friday evenings.  If you need to do the workout another time, please let me or Chris know.  Your score will not be validated unless you are judged by a person who has taken the on-line judges course.  CrossFit HQ is seriously stepping up their effort to ensure that all Affiliates and athletes are committed to honest, fair and ethical performances.  It is absolutely required for everyone performing the workouts at CrossFit Works to adhere to the strictest possible judging requirements.  I have always been proud to stand behind each score entered on behalf of my Affiliate and that will continue this year.  Best of luck to everyone who has worked so hard this year to prepare for this series of competitions.  May all your hard work pay off in the next five weeks!

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8 Days to the first 2014 Reebok CrossFit Games Workout Announcement!!

This is all getting pretty exciting!  We have just over a week before we find out the first workout for this year’s Open.  Lots of you have been practising your skills for participating in your first Open, and of course, The Performance Team has been training hard for the entire year.  Get ready for some fun Friday nights.

Shout out to these new ladies who are doing some strength training and body composition changes with me.  They have already lost pounds and learned how to squat and deadlift with excellent technique.   They are pretty good fun too.  Look for some strong lifting from at least one of them at this June’s 100% Raw Powerlifting Federation American Challenge!!

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Happy Valentine’s Day everyone.  I know some of you are not celebrators of this particular holiday, and some of you have BIIIG plans.  Either way.  Let’s treat this one the way I once read in a Martha Stewart magazine before she went to rich people prison.  She said that you should pick a significant day of the year, like your birthday, to remember to perform important tasks like putting new batteries in your smoke detectors.  So how about you take Valentine’s Day and take a minute to think about your heart.  Today, I’m in the mood to be scientific and sappy, so we’ll cover all the heart bases.

Feeding the Heart

Your heart likes magnesium, a lot of it.  I’ve already spoken with most of you at some point about including magnesium supplementation.  Magnesium is a smooth muscle relaxer, so it helps you sleep and will relax your digestions a little bit too much if you over do it!  It also is important in effective production of energy in our cells.  Recent reviews of the medical literature have identified low magnesium levels as the most powerful connection with cardiovascular disease.  Way more important in cardiac health than cholesterol intake.  Low magnesium levels are linked to high blood pressure, calcification of soft tissues, hardening of the arteries and placque buildup.  Several studies have shown that IV magnesium given in the emergency room to heart attack victims cuts the death rate significantly as well as decreases rates of death in the weeks following the heart attack.  Magnesium also decreases arrhythmias.  The average American diet includes only about 40% of the US RDA for magnesium.  My favorite supplement is Peter Gillham’s Natural Calm.

Coenzyme Q10 is a nutrient found concentrated primarily in the heart muscle.  It is an anti oxidant as well as used to produce energy in the mitochondria of the cell.  It is found only in animal products, especially red meat and organ meats. In the few studies that have been done, supplementation with CoQ10 improves the health statistics of heart disease patients.

Saturated fats, especially stearic acid, are a preferred source of fuel for the heart.  In fact increased levels of stearic acid (the saturated fat found in beef fat) actually cause cholesterol levels, especially the LDL (the bad stuff) to drop.  Eating high quality animal fats is nourishing for the heart.

Exercising the Heart

I think you guys have that one pretty well figured out.  Gone are the days when we thought that running for hours every day was good for the heart.  In fact we now know that marathon runners can have some of the sickest hearts around.  Primal movements like you guys do-a mix of running, rowing, jumping, climbing, lifting and throwing keep the heart well tuned.

Soothing the Heart

Lots of studies show that loving and being loved is good for your heart.  Just spending time, quiet time with a loved one, drops blood pressure.  Scientists say it is the perceived emotional support is the reason for the drop in blood pressure. A real, true hug is good too.  Studies show that a true hug results in a release of oxytocin, the same hormone a mama releases when she looks at her new baby.  Oxytocin lowers stress levels and blood pressure.  Most of us don’t really hug very well.  I have a good friend who teaches dance therapy and is an incredible massage therapist.  She says, the true oxytocin-releasing hugs involve making sure your rib cage over your heart presses against the rib cage and heart of the person you hug and that you take a few deep breaths together.  Laughing is important too.  One study compared people watching funny movies to those watching action movies.  The folks doing the laughing had lowered blood pressures blood vessel dilation.  The folks watching the actions pics experienced vasoconstriction.  If you are a hard core, non-touchy-feely person, I beg you to read a book called Molecules of Emotion by Dr. Candace Pert.  Dr. Pert was one of the discoverers of the opiate receptor in the human body many decades ago.  Her research went on to explore how biochemically, our moods and emotions, affect our physical health.

Love your Heart

Love yourself first.  I know this sounds goofy, but I do see a lot of you who don’t love yourself very much.  Even sometimes our health, fitness and body composition goals are born, not out of wanting the best for our bodies, but out of dislike or distaste for our bodies.  I have a very wise friend who said today “I dare you to fall in love with you!”  Puppies, kittens, kids, family, friends, lovers, spouses-you can love them all better if you love yourself first.  It is the toughest kind of love to practise!

Happy Valentine’s Day Everyone!

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Work your Backside

Cosmo magazine, The Word on What is Sexy, celebrates the best posterior chains in football right here.

After nearly five years of coaching group CrossFit classes, I have turned my focus to personal training and strength coaching.  Five years ago I actually disliked personal training.  It seemed boring and low energy and sort of “not hard core”.  I have come full circle now, and find that coaching group classes is more frustrating because I can’t take the time to correct poor movements and poor positioning.  There are too many people with different issues and not enough time.  At this point in my coaching work, I find it much more rewarding to spend focused time correcting specific issues and being able to work carefully with a person’s personal desires and goals.  In group coaching, by default, the programmer and coach are basically the people setting the goals and the direction.  In one-on-one work, the client gets to set the goals.  I appreciate that so much more now.  However, almost without exception, the first step in working towards a WIDE variety of personal fitness and health goals, is to get the posterior chain working hard instead of hardly working.  In body work speak, it is called “turning on” the glutes, hamstrings and adductors.  An athlete that has a strong, effective posterior chain is usually one of those people that has a physique or a way of moving that is widely admired.  They have good posture, a real butt, and they move with balance.  Back pain and knee pain are also often related to an imbalance in action between the quads (the front of the thigh) and the posterior.  In my one-on-one work with people, invigorating the actions of the posterior chain is worth a huge amount of attention.  However long it takes to help people learn to fire up those muscles and do work with them is worth it.  Luckily, for those of you in group CrossFit classes, you also are exposed to a strong focus on the posterior chain, it just is a bit easier for you to gloss over it and ignore uncomfortable coaching cues.  When you hear, “knees out”, “set your back”, “weight in your heels” those are all pleas to get you to fire up the posterior chain muscle groups.  Let’s be serious.  A flat butt is no good for health, wellness or hotness!  Start really listening when your coach works to get your butt on the job for you!

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Good Luck to the Rincon/UHS Rangers!!

For the last 6 weeks we have been the strength and conditioning gym for the Rincon/University Highschool Rangers Baseball team.  The boys have done an incredible job.  Many of them have never been exposed to a serious strength program before, and they put excellent effort into really doing things correctly.  I was especially impressed in their attention to their team mates and safety.  As a group they were the best back squat spotters we’ve ever had in the gym, including all our adult programs!  The boys are now getting ready to begin their season, and we wish them the best of luck.

On the left the team is working on side planks, and on the right, you can see the senior catcher who tested out his 1RM back squat at a perfect, fast 315lbs.  Nice job Cole.

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2014 Reebok CrossFit Games Open…registration is open

Hey all, we’ve been talking and talking to you about participating in the Open process with us.  For today’s purposes let’s just say it will be a complete and total fun time, so do it.  Here is the link to register, add yourself to our Team, CrossFit Works.

Next Tuesday evening (January 21 at 6:30pm), and for the following two Tuesdays afterwards your coaches will spend an hour reviewing important tricks, tips and techniques to help your Open experience go as awesomely as possible.  Be there!!

Next Wednesday evening at 6:15pm will begin our 4 week Olympic Lifting series with Chris, talk to him or email him if you would like a spot.

Finally, we’d like to wish Sam and Leslie “Good Luck” tomorrow at The Final Rush Club, an invitation-only competition in Phoenix!!

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